It's already possible to take aerial shots using your smartphone
, but doing so means throwing your expensive piece of kit into the air and hoping you're a good catch. What's really needed is a standalone device that can be launched skywards to capture panoramic views. Enter Squito, a prototype throwable camera ball capable of producing stabilized 360-degree images and video that could prove useful in several different fields.
It’s been a busy month for UAVs with some launching from aircraft carriers
and others saving lives
. Now, the US Navy’s latest unmanned Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System, has taken to the skies. This Wednesday, the 47.6-foot (14.5-m) aircraft, powered by a Rolls-Royce AE 3007 turbofan engine, took off from Palmdale, California. It was under the control of Navy and Northrop Grumman personnel, as part of a series of tests to certify the system for fleet operations.
Last year, much to the delight of squeamish people everywhere, scientists were successfully able to remotely control the paths traveled by live cockroaches
. They did so by wirelessly stimulating the insects’ antennae and cerci sensory organs. Now, a group of scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have reported success in controlling the paths of walking turtles. Fortunately for the reptiles, the KAIST researchers’ methods were considerably less invasive than those used on the cockroaches.
Earlier this week, Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye demonstrator successfully completed its second flight. While still well short of the four day flight time and 65,000 foot altitude Boeing says the aircraft is capable of, the second flight is a step in the right direction from the Phantom Eye's first flight
that ended – not quite as successfully – on June 1, 2012.
Following the first flight of its Phantom Eye
in June of last year, Boeing has performed software and hardware upgrades in preparation for its second flight that will see it climb to higher altitudes. This week, the hydrogen-powered unmanned aircraft system made a significant step towards such a second flight with the completion of taxi testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Endurance is one of the biggest limiting factors of UAVs. To stay airborne longer, Boeing has turned to hydrogen to fuel its Phantom Eye
, Qinetiq’s Zephyr
relies on solar power and Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk
can refuel autonomously in mid-air. But CyPhy Works has taken a different approach with its first UAVs. By connecting to a ground-based power source via a “microfilament,” the UAVs are able to stay aloft indefinitely.
First responders such as firefighters or police officers are often faced with a difficult situation – they need to get into a building as fast as possible, yet it’s unsafe for them to just blindly run in without knowing what hazards await them. Some groups are attempting to address this problem by designing reconnaissance robots
, although such devices can be expensive and/or complex. Boston-based Bounce Imaging, however, is putting the finishing touches on something a little more simple to use – a throwable smart ball.
Howe and Howe Technologies of Waterboro, Maine, has unveiled the firefighter of tomorrow called the Thermite RS1-T2. Based on technology developed for the U.S. Army, this squat little modular robot on tank treads is a small, powerful fire fighting machine that provides crews with a means for remote reconnaissance and fighting fires in hazardous areas safely.
A number of research institutions are currently developing systems
in which autonomous robots could be sent into places such as burning buildings, to create a map of the floor plan for use by waiting emergency response teams. Unfortunately, for now, we still have to rely on humans to perform that sort of dangerous reconnaissance work. New technology being developed by MIT, however, kind of splits the difference. It’s a wearable device that creates a digital map in real time, as the person who’s wearing it walks through a building.
UAVs have become increasingly common in everything from carrying out missile strikes against terrorists to helping map archaeological sites
. They come in all sizes from jet-powered behemoths to ones so small that they can sit in your hand
. On Monday, Silent Falcon UAS Technologies of Alburquerque, New Mexico rolled out the latest in the small UAV class with the unveiling of its solar-powered Silent Falcon at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference in Las Vegas.